Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Girls!

I am single and never married or bore children of my own, yet God provided for that particular void in my life. For years, I worked with girl groups such as Brownie Girl Scouts, Pioneer Girls, AWANA and Missionettes. I even volunteered in a neonatal Intensive Care Unit and held newborns! I loved kids, and best of all, they loved me! I was always the “coolest leader” and would get silly with the kids. In spite of working with other’s people’s kids, and always there for everyone else, I never felt like I was needed. I tried to find my worth in doing for others but only grew exhausted and empty because I gave and gave till there was nothing left to give. I was lonely and  despondent.

In January of 1993 I had a hysterectomy and knew that there’d never be a chance of ever having a child of my own. (Being single, I chose not to adopt) But you know what? God heard my heart’s desire and intervened in a way I would never have expected. Actually, the surgery was a good thing for me, and I felt much better once I recovered, and that year was one of the best years of my life!

At the time, I was attending a Pentecostal church that had a girls group known as Missionettes. I worked through the 4-year workbook that the girls did, memorizing all the verses to become known as an “Esther.” In April, there was a special ceremony in a far away city and I went alone to receive my honors. That was okay, because I felt proud of my achievement! In May, my church honored me as “Woman of the year” during the annual women’s luncheon.

This is Stefanie on our
 last outing together
before she moved to another state

Our first Christmas together.
Stephanie had turned 11 in November
The greatest event of the year occurred June 5th when my 10 year old niece, Stephanie came to live with me! (The reasons are very complex.) I’d previously built a relationship with Stephanie when she was younger, but after she  moved to another state, I lost touch. A lot of trauma happened to her in that span of time, and God knew that she needed me, and that I needed her. I call this the second greatest Gift God has given me. (The first being His Salvation)

It was not easy suddenly becoming a single parent and I’m so grateful that my parents were able to help out. I worked at a job that began at 6:30 in the morning, so we had to get up very early so that I could take Steph to my parents home, which was about 22 miles away, then go on to work. They would take her to school and pick her up.  (Depending on my schedule as I got off work at 3:00pm and had days off during the week.) They kept her all day on weekends.

Stephanie had emotional issues that needed to be worked through and it took a few years for her to emotionally catch up to an appropriate age level. She was love-starved. (So was I.)

We’d cuddled in my big recliner chair and watched TV or read or just chatted. I took her to church, and she accepted Christ as her Savior about two weeks after coming to live with me. My church was very supportive of us and was there for me when I needed advice.

Stephanie was a strong-willed child and was not a girly-girl. I had to amend my lofty visions of being a Mary Poppins type parent!
I think I bribed Stephanie
 to dress alike just one time-
 for the mother-daughter tea!

 This little lady was very bubbly and outgoing, and talked nonstop. She was also extremely sensitive and was easily hurt. She had many girlfriends and never lacked for male friends. That kid was funny and so very entertaining. I still smile thinking about some of her antics!
Taken at Knott's Berry Farm

I was there for her throughout Jr. High and High school and helped in the challenges she encountered. Stephanie was active in the church youth group and most of her friends were from that group and would sometimes come to our home. She was generally a good kid, but her biggest problem was talking too much rather than attend to her school studies!

Of course, life with a child was not perfect! The stress of my job, my stretched financial situation and dealing with an emotionally needy young girl made life even more difficult; especially since I myself, was emotionally needy! There was a very rough patch of time when Steph was going through adolescence and I was dealing with an early menopause. Oh boy…. Not a pleasant memory!
But I  fondly remember the fun and silly times we had.
When she was 23, Stephanie met a man on the Internet and married him after only knowing him for a very short time. The marriage lasted just a few months; however, she got pregnant during that time. She left the abusive situation and returned home with me.

When Samantha Lynn was born in 2005, I was there for her birth and helped in her care the first two years of her life as they continued to live with me. I have a special bond with that little girl, who will be six years old, come December 13th. (Notice the middle name!)


I called them “My girls."


 In 2008 Stephanie married a saint of a man she met at church. Unfortunately for me, they moved to another state and Tristan legally adopted Sammi. I go visit as I can and joined Facebook just to keep in contact. The entire family will be coming here for a visit in November! I’m really looking forward to that time.


I always worried that when Stephanie had to leave the nest, I would be devastated, but God took care of that! Shortly after she and Sammi moved away, I was given a job that required much of my time, attention and energies so had little energy to think about my loss. That made for an easy transition.

Stephanie has come so far in her life and now enjoys being a stay at home mom with 3 little girls who are all December babies. Steph also home schools' Sammi and plans to do so with the other two girls: Liliana Jayne, who will be two on the 5th and Lucille May,who will be one on the 8th.


 Stephanie also has a business of crocheting baby hats and hair accessories. She even has an online shop at Etsy….

She is so busy these days and I rarely get the chance to talk with her, but she knows I will always be there for her and will never ever leave her. Sammi frequently phones me and she talks. A lot. Just like her mother did!

 Because Stephanie came into my life, I never again experienced loneliness and she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to try new things. I became more outgoing and confident of myself. I felt needed and wanted because I had someone who needed me as much as I needed her! Every time Stevie Wonder’s song “For once in my lifetime” came on the radio, I would sing along and point at Stephanie. I said that it was our song!

Yes, Stephanie is someone else’s child, but for a season, she was my child and even though she is now a grown woman, she will always be my Stephie! I am so very proud of her.

I've not had the opportunity to build relationships with the youngest kids, however, I will always consider them all

 “My girls!”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

R is for Recess

 Defined as a break from classes during the school day, RECESS was the best part of going to school when I was in the fourth grade.
My family of four moved frequently and I attended several grade schools before putting down roots in one city when I was ten. (We stayed and I remained till my early 20’s.) However, before I reached that last school, I attended part of one school year in Palmdale, California, in the early 1960’s.

We lived close to the school so I would go home for lunch, gulp down the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup and run back to the playground, eager for the activity on the playground.

I loved tether ball, jump rope and hopscotch. I remember calling the hopscotch marker a “lager”. I don’t know why and still have no idea what they are really called, but recollect that a small heavy chain worked best for aim and sticking to the spot it landed in.

There was always a line to play tether ball, but turns came quickly. Sometimes, I was a several-time winner! I’m thinking now  that the pounding the ball received was  due to my  social and emotional frustrations.

Jumping rope was fun when several girls worked together  I could do Double Dutch, and even though I was fat, I was able to excell at  Hot Peppers! 
I still remember some of the jumping chants.

The hand-clapping to chants were also popular at that grade level.

I  played on the monkey bars but was never too adept at it.  (Do they even have monkey bars at school anymore?) Back in those days, girls were not allowed to wear pants to school, so we would wear shorts beneath our   dresses. 


 The boys like to play marbles. My brother was a grade behind me, and he had a beautiful collection of big colorful marbles.

Being an overweight kid, I did not do well in sports, but did enjoy dodge ball and the game “foursquare.”

Not all recesses were fun, and  I tended to be a loner. I do remember a time when another student and I discovered a wheelbarrow filled with white chalky powder used to draw grids in the grass. We got caught "white handed" exploring the substance. We were disciplined by standing next to the fence for the duration of recess. Being a “goody two shoes” I was devastated!

We moved midyear from that school, and I hated the class that I ended up for the last part of fourth grade, yet that is the school I finished at. There were some fun recesses there, too. Still had tether ball, hopscotch and monkey bars, but it was also the beginning of puberty and boys with cooties!

Recess activities were usually a way to get out pent up energy so to better focus in the classroom. I really should start doing that in my daily work! 

                                                                 Challenge anyone to a game of tetherball?

Monday, September 12, 2011


I started to go through the “Q” section in the dictionary to find a topic for this week’s meme, but after rejecting Qaddafi and Q-fever, my hand flew to my forehead.
  ...  Q …    Duh!  My professional title is QMRP!

It is often simply referred to as “Q”.

It’s an acronym for Qualified Mental Retardation Professional.

A QMRP is a person who has had at least one year of experience working directly with persons who have mental retardation or other developmental disabilities AND who holds at least a bachelor degree in a professional category.

 I have a Bachelor of Social Work degree and prior to obtaining the degree, worked 28 years in a state institution for persons who have mental retardation.

Currently, I work for a company that has 18 group homes categorized as Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled (ICF/DD). It is a federal regulation that for each facility “Each client’s active treatment program must be integrated, coordinated and monitored by Qualified Mental Retardation Professional” Tag W159       So, what I actually do is oversee four group homes for persons with developmental disabilities. Each home has 6 clients, and all have profound mental retardation, physical disabilities and chronic medical conditions.

Each client has an ISP or individual service plan, which is similar to individual educational plans that some school kids have. I am responsible for writing up these program reports every six months and following up on consultant recommendations. Each person has objectives that they are to work on and the  staff who take direct care of the clients document this on the data sheets that I create each month. And, at the beginning of each month, I write up monthly assessments of how the person did and  include other pertinent information from the previous month.

I am responsible for supplying clothing, shoes and any other personal needs for each person. Every client receives monthly funding for these needs. I carry company credit cards, and after submitting  a requisition, shop for the needed items. Technically, the client should shop with me or other staff, but that is not always realistic.

It is my responsibility to ensure that each client is properly groomed and cared for, and to follow up on any injury that occurs. I am always on the alert for possible abuse. (Thankfully, that has not happened!)

I am responsible for ensuring that the RN is doing her job and to make sure that the clients attend their prescribed medical appointments and  receive their routine lab work.

During the week, the clients attend day programs,which are geared for their needs. Not everyone attends the same facility and they are scattered between several cities. I am supposed to visit these day programs at least twice a month. Currently, there are seven different facilities that my 24 clients attend and they span 47 miles so I don’t always get in the fourteen visits.

I am also responsible for ensuring that each household has the supplies to run efficiently-bedding, towels, dishes, food processors (Puree and chopped diets) microwave ovens, etc. I shop for these as needed.

Each home has a licensing- required emergency food supply for 8 persons for 3 days. I have to check to make sure the menued food has not expired and that the 24 gallons of bottled water are routinely rotated. I shop for these item on an as needed basis.

Regular groceries and some medications are provided by outside vendors but sometimes I will have to purchase certain items if they run out or the pharmacy does not supply the medication.

Every week, I go into the main office and do payroll. You see, I'm also the administrator of these four homes so oversee the staff as well. This is the hardest part of my job and sometimes I become very frustrated. There is ’round the clock staffing because the clients are never to be left alone. Many of my staff do not have a good work ethic and can’t seem to understand the need for promptness or to show up when scheduled. Many seem to be lacking in common sense.

The staff makes just a bit over minimum wage and don’t require previous experience. Most of them speak English as a second language and often have communication problems. The next biggest group is very young women who already have children and no husband. Mainly, their biggest problems are child care and transportation problems.

I am on call 24/7 and I get calls- any time day or night, days off and holidays. I am salaried and my schedule is very flexible, however, when I get a late night or early morning phone call, I cannot go back to sleep so often have a lot of fatigue.

Every month I'm supposed to make rounds of the houses during the night shift. Doing this always upsets my body schedule and leaves me tired for a few days. Sometimes, if too much is going on during the month, I just skip the “NOC checks.”

There are 4 other QMRP’s in the company I work for and they cover an additional 14 homes. We often work together for staffing and use of the facilities vans. We have a management meeting each month, along with the executive director, Quality assurance staff person and the RN’s for each home. I enjoy these meetings and we even get lunch!

Each year, state licensing pays a two or three day visit and goes through everything with a fine tooth comb. I try to run my homes to be ready at all times- to always do things the right way. NOT EASY! I've already had 3 surveys this year and the fourth one is pending within the next 6 weeks. They could show up at anytime, but no one knows when.

As you can see, my job is one that has a lot of responsibilities. I’ve always prided myself in being a good worker and doing EVERYTHING that I’m suppose to do. But a few months ago, I was getting stressed out because I was attempting to cram it all in. Oftentimes, things come up that are not on my “agenda” so it sets me back or the plans for the day have been complete revised.  At the time, I was  always cranky and not very nice and I disliked the job that I once loved. I did not like what I had become. It was then that I realized that I cannot do it all. (When compared to the other Q’s, they did not do nearly as much as I did and it was okay)  So now, my mind set is that I will do the best I can each day, but not try to cram so many tasks into the day. I feel much better and the load is easier, but it's still a constant reminder... I am not "Super-Q."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fire or Thunder?

It's early Sunday morning and I can see several small cloud puffs that are changing shape and color as daylight approaches. Some even have darkening bottoms. Will rain be on the way? I appreciate clouds and enjoy their unique beauty and they are fun to look at. Who recently has observed shapes in the clouds? On hot days, I can look out across our local mountains and see large puffy clouds that resemble a stack of cotton clumps.
Then I wonder- is that a fire or is there a thunderstorm?

According to the website Enchanted Learning:

 "Clouds form when water vapor (water that has evaporated from the surface of the Earth) condenses (turns into liquid water or solid ice) onto microscopic dust particles (or other tiny particles) floating in the air. This condensation (cloud formation) happens when warm and cold air meet, when warm air rises up the side of a mountain and cools as it rises, and when warm air flows over a colder area, like a cool body of water. This occurs because cool air can hold less water vapor than warm air, and excess water condenses into either liquid or ice."

I live in Southern California and this is the season for brush fires. We currently have one going on in the Cajon Pass, near the high desert city of Victorville. I cannot see the smoke because of my location, but I know from the news photos that there is a cloud-like formation rising into the sky. I heard a local news meteorologist refer to certain clouds created by brush fire as    Pyrocumulus.*

This is defined as  
 “A dense cloud associated with fire or volcanic activity”

 These clouds result from extreme heating of the air from the surface below, which then causes a chemical reaction known as convection that then forms the cloud. When the vegetation is burned, there is additional moisture that adds to the powerful cloud structure.

When fire clouds grow, they can create their own weather system. Often the hot, dense clouds create thunderstorms, which set off lightening and may ignite additional fires or there may be rain, which helps put out the fires.

When there is a jet stream of very hot air, it can set off severe thunderstorms, which then may create firestorms, and fire tornadoes.  These firestorm clouds are called  Pyrocumulonimbus.

This video is a time lapse view of fire clouds that occurred at the Station Fire of August 2009. I remember that fire and it could be seen for miles. 

  In my research of fire clouds, I learned that a single fluffy cloud is known as cumulus and they tend to be the foundation for other types of clouds. When other cotton ball clouds are added, it is known as cumulonimbus referring to the accumulating of clouds into a column or tower shape.
"Cumulus clouds are puffy clouds that sometimes look like pieces of floating cotton. The base of each cloud is often flat and may be only 1000 m (330 ft) above the ground. The top of the cloud has rounded towers. When the top of the cumulus resembles the head of a cauliflower, it is called cumulus congestus or towering cumulus. These clouds grow upward, and they can develop into a giant cumulonimbus, which is a thunderstorm cloud.

Cumulonimbus clouds are thunderstorm clouds that form if cumulus congestus clouds continue to grow vertically. Their dark bases may be no more than 300 m (1000 ft) above the Earth's surface. Their tops may extend upward to over 12,000 m (39,000 ft). Tremendous amounts of energy are released by the condensation of water vapor within a cumulonimbus. Lightning, thunder, and even violent tornadoes are associated with the cumulonimbus"

 I watched the clouds all day as they took on a flattened and connected shape. By the the time darkness arrived, the sky was totally overcast. At 2:25am, I was awakened by a thunder and rain! I bet there was a collective cheer from the firefighters at the Victorville fire.  (Now, if only Texas could get some of this rain.)

Cloud watching is a pleasant past time. However, when the clouds signify fire, that's not so fun. Not too many structures were destroyed in this current fire, but worse, there was life lost. The fire passed through farms with live stock and an animal sanctuary. Ever since I personally witnessed a house fire a few months ago,  the tragedy seems even more real to me.

 To end on a more cheerful topic, I encourage you to search the sky and gaze at the clouds. God's Creation is amazing.  I am seeking more than  just shapes and types of clouds; I am also looking for that Glorious Appearing!

* All cloud photos  are from the Internet,except for the Station Fire Picture